The Checkout

Break Out the Scissors and Bring in the Savings

Annys Shin

I hesitate to say coupons are "back." For many people, they were never "out." But they had been declining in popularity in recent years.

Not any more. Thanks to hard economic times, there are more converts with each passing day.

As my colleague Nancy Trejos reported on Sunday, people are rediscovering the power of coupon clipping.

Coupon usage peaked in 1992, when nearly 8 billion were redeemed for nearly $5 billion in savings, according to CMS, which processes coupon payments for merchants. Usage then started declining at an annual rate of 5 to 7 percent. Last year was the first year it did not decline, with 2.6 billion coupons redeemed for savings of almost $3 billion...
Of the 1,529 U.S. consumers surveyed by Toronto-based ICOM this spring, 67 percent said they would be more likely to use coupons during a recession. It didn't matter how old they were. People of all ages -- from 18- to 24-year-olds to baby boomers to retirees -- said they would turn to coupons.

Who doesn't love to peek at the number next to the negative sign at the grocery store checkout that shows how much you saved? It almost makes up for the fact that some computer somewhere is sucking in all the information about what I buy and building a detailed profile of me based on my purchases of double fiber bread and reduced fat cheddar. I'm a coupon amateur, though, compared to the folks in Nancy's story, who, in one case, managed to spend $50 on $200 worth of items at CVS.

Maybe that figure doesn't impress you because you top that regularly with your coupon clipping savvy. If so, spill! Tell us what you bought, how much you saved and how you did it. I was going to say "spread the wealth," but that seems to get people in trouble lately, especially with large angry bald unlicensed plumbers. So how about spread the savings instead?

By Annys Shin |  October 27, 2008; 1:11 PM ET Annys Shin
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